ISIS shoots down fighter jet in Libya’s Benghazi
A MiG-23 fighter of Libya’s internationally recognized government was shot down Friday as it carried out air strikes on opposition positions in the coastal city of Benghazi, the military said.
Nasser el-Hassi, spokesman for the government’s forces, told AFP the plane was “shot down in Qaryunes, northwest Benghazi, as it bombed positions of the (Mujahedeen) Shura Council”, a coalition of Islamist militias close to Al-Qaeda.
The ISIS militant group claimed its fighters downed the plane, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. monitor of militant activity on the Internet.
A military source said the pilot survived having parachuted to safety, but his whereabouts were not immediately clear.
It was the second military air crash this week.
On Monday, another MiG-23 operated by forces loyal to Libya’s recognized government crashed near the eastern city of Derna after attacking ISIS positions.
LANA news agency, which is close to the recognized government, blamed “technical problems” for the downing.
Before crashing, the fighter had carried out raids on ISIS positions around 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Derna.
Two administrations are vying for power in war-ravaged Libya, one based in the capital Tripoli backed by a coalition of militias, and the recognized government, exiled in the east.
In early January, another MiG 23 came down in Benghazi, the main city in the east.
Chaos engulfing Libya since the fall of Dictator Moamer Qaddafi’s regime in 2011 has fostered the rise of ISIS which has based itself in the former dictator’s hometown of Sirte in eastern Libya.